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June 27, 2008

Taking Stock

The Times:

The consensus in much of the West is that the War on Terror is unwinnable. . . . And yet the evidence is now overwhelming that on all fronts, despite inevitable losses from time to time, it is we who are advancing and the enemy who is in retreat. . . . Since it is remarkable how pervasive this pessimism is, it's worth recapping what has been achieved in the past few years.

Afghanistan has been a signal success. There has been much focus on the latest counter-offensive by the Taleban in the southeast of the country and it would be churlish to minimise the ferocity with which the terrorists are fighting, but it would be much more foolish to understate the scale of the continuing Nato achievement. . . .

Next time you hear someone say that the war in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility ask them this: do they seriously think that if the US and its allies had not ousted the Taleban and sustained an offensive against them for six years that there would have been no more terrorist attacks in the West? What characterised Islamist terrorism before the Afghan war was increasing sophistication, boldness and terrifying efficiency. What has characterised the terrorist attacks in the past few years has been their crudeness, insignificance and a faintly comical ineptitude.

The second great advance in the War on Terror has been in Iraq. There's no need to recapitulate the disasters of the US-led war from the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003 to his execution at the end of 2006. We may never fully make up for three and a half lost years of hubris and incompetence but in the last 18 months the change has been startling. The "surge", despite all the doubts and derision at the time, has been a triumph of US military planning and execution. . . .

The third and perhaps most significant advance of all in the War on Terror is the discrediting of the Islamist creed and its appeal. . . . There ought to be no surprise here. It's only their apologists in the Western media who really failed to see the intrinsic evil of Islamists. Those who have had to live with it have never been in much doubt about what it represents. Ask the people of Iran. Or those who fled the horrors of Afghanistan under the Taleban.

This is why we fight. Primarily, of course, to protect ourselves from the immediate threat of terrorist carnage, but also because we know that extending the embrace of a civilisation that liberates everyone makes us all safer.
Hear hear.

Posted by David Mader at 12:07 PM | (2) | Back to Main

June 23, 2008

Traitors to Science (An Ongoing Series)

I've noted before that in the debate regarding the causes of climate change, proponents of the man-made crisis theory have, at times, displayed an attitude that is entirely contrary to the principles of modern science.

We have a new example:

James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: "When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime."

As I wrote last April:
The crux of the enlightenment - and of the scientific revolution - was the rejection of arguments from authority. Truth was not what the Pope said it was; truth was what could be demonstrated and observed, repeatedly, by independent observers. The scientific method operates through the publication of theories and their submission to testing by others. . . .

Note the fundamental assumption of the 'scientists': that in an age of mass media, certain theories are too dangerous to be allowed to be disseminated to the public. The identification of those theories is left, apparently, not to the public - those poor, stupid souls - but to the scientific establishment. They have the authority to determine what is good science and what is bad; what is good science may be discussed, but what is bad science must be suppressed.

They have the authority. They are making arguments from authority. They are suppressing heresies. They are not scientists.

It's a new church, and oil executives are heretics. Lord help us all.

UPDATE (10:27 EDT 6/24/08): Here is an article by Dr. Hansen, posted to the Huffington Post, that appears to reflect his Congressional testimony. It is, I think, a very strong example of a scientist playing politics, and I submit that it supports my characterization above.

Posted by David Mader at 10:11 AM | (10) | Back to Main

June 18, 2008

Must Read of the Day

In the Post, Anthony Furey takes his fellow artists to task for getting their unmentionables in a knot while ignoring the Maclean's case. Money 'grafs:

Here is what they are missing: Under Bill C-10, film producers will no longer be able to use tax credits as collateral when receiving their interim loans from banks (thus lessening their chances of securing these loans), nor will they be able to work them into their cash flow as a way of funding post-production needs. However, there is nothing stopping these producers from getting their money from another source. There is also absolutely nothing stopping them from making their films in this country, regardless of the content. All the bill says is that some films will not be made on the public dollar.

Compare that to what could happen if a human rights tribunal decides against Maclean’s: It could order the private magazine to publish material and images against its editors’ wishes. Let me repeat that: The state will order Maclean’s to publish something it does not want to publish. Isn’t that what China does? So why don’t ear-to-the-ground, free speech-loving Canadian artists denounce it?

A cynic might respond that bien-pensant lefty artists aren't in fact free-speech loving; they merely believe that their voices should be free from censorship (and, apparently, taxpayer-funded). Furey is more charitable.

Posted by David Mader at 05:02 PM | (1) | Back to Main

One Redeeming Feature of the Kangaroo Courts

They haven't admitted the testimony of psychics.

Not yet, anyway.

What is wrong with the Canadian justice system? If I were an member active member of Canada's legal community, I'd be mighty concerned - because from down here, it's starting to look like a joke.

Posted by David Mader at 10:44 AM | (2) | Back to Main

June 16, 2008

Daily Telegraph Copies from Wikipedia?

Seems like there's been a spot of wiki-plagiarism at the Daily Telegraph. Compare this story on Prince William's appointment to the Order of the Garter with this Wikipedia article on the Order. From the Telegraph:

According to another legend, King Richard I was inspired in the 12th century by St George the Martyr while fighting in the Crusades to tie garters around the legs of his knights, who subsequently won the battle.

King Edward supposedly recalled the event in the 14th century when he founded the Order.

Another explanation is that the motto refers to Edward’s claim to the French throne, and the Order of the Garter was created to help pursue this claim. The use of the garter as an emblem may have derived from straps used to fasten armour.

And from Wikipedia:
According to another legend, King Richard I was inspired in the 12th century by St George the Martyr while fighting in the Crusades to tie garters around the legs of his knights, who subsequently won the battle. King Edward supposedly recalled the event in the 14th century when he founded the Order. Another explanation is that the motto refers to Edward's claim to the French throne, and the Order of the Garter was created to help pursue this claim. The use of the garter as an emblem may have derived from straps used to fasten armour.
And for those suggesting that perhaps the plagiarism went the other way, I refer you to the Wikipedia article's revision history page.


Posted by David Mader at 10:15 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 12, 2008

Quote of the Day

"We don’t subscribe to a marketplace of ideas."
Jason Gratl, lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of Journalists, on Canadian attitudes towards free speech.

How depressing. How true.

Posted by David Mader at 10:50 AM | (0) | Back to Main

June 06, 2008

Generally Absurd

From Andrew Coyne's account of Faisal Joseph's closing argument:

Now he’s reviewing the evidence we heard earlier. Ayoub: Steyn’s article claims Muslims in “an underground conspiracy to take over the world.” Rippin: shows them having a single, unchanging identity. Habib: Muslims told they don’t fit in, they’re not westerners, they’re foreigners. Experts agree that article makes no distinction between fringe elements in Muslim world and ordinary Muslims. Presented as a global, homogeneous group, with no identity outside religious belief.
From Coyne's precis of Naiyer Habib's testimony:
Habib says that Bin Laden was not jihad. Bin Laden was a problem for Muslims, he maligned us.
From Coyne's precis of Dr. Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub's testimony:
The extremist, violent types are an anomaly. "They are more a problem for us than for the west."
(Emphasis added.)

Posted by David Mader at 01:13 PM | (0) | Back to Main

June 03, 2008

McCarthyism Comes to Canada

All Canadians of conscience should be reading Andrew Coyne's live-blogging of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing on Mohammed Elmasry's complaint against Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine.

Coyne's account is tremendously important, because it is a first-hand chronicle of proceedings that have the potential to affect - and that are already affecting - the most basic of democratic rights: the freedom of expression. There has been much debate in the Canadian blogosphere about free speech and hate speech and whether the former should be constrained to prevent the latter. But wherever one stands on the substantive issue, it is in the interests of all Canadians that the issue be adjudicated by a fair and impartial tribunal operating according to those rules of fundamental process that have evolved over a millennium of experiment and experience.

Coyne's account is important because it illustrates, in immediate terms, how far the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal departs from our age-old procedural guarantees, how it allows defendants to be tainted by hearsay and innuendo, how it disregards conflicts of interest, how it conflates individual culpability with general grievance. Whatever you think about hate speech laws, whatever you think about the merits of the Steyn case, it should be fundamental that the adjudication of that case under those laws be fair. And this should be especially true of those who would rob us of our fundamental and age-old rights in the name of collectivism and political correctness.

Instead, the defenders of this institutional witch-hunt themselves resort to smear and innuendo. That's too bad. But it's not too late - not too late for proponents and opponents of hate speech laws alike to stand up together to reject the pseudo-legal human rights tribunals and to demand that laws restricting our Section Two rights be applied by courts of law.

There is a saving grace, of sorts, a feature that distinguishes this Canadian McCarthyism from the real thing. McCarthy was a Senator, and his targets had no course of appeal, except to the court of popular opinion. Steyn and Macleans will at least be able to appeal their case to real courts. But as long as the laws creating the human rights tribunals and vesting them with the authority to adjudicate hate speech cases remain on the books, the courts of law will have little leverage in correcting the patent procedural abuses Coyne chronicles. In other words, we can't rely on the courts to fix the problem. It's time to point the finger at these petty McCarthyists and ask: have you no sense of decency, at long last?

Posted by David Mader at 01:35 PM | (4) | Back to Main